Thanks, easy decision now!
Not sure if this is useless info at this point for steady but we did both and if you could only do one, definitely choose Newgrange since you can go through the entire passage. You can only go in a little bit at Knowth.
I did Newgrange and Knowth last summer. The guide at Knowth was so enthusiastic and eager to share her knowledge that the tour was excellent. She welcomed questions and had a great discussion with some German architects. The tour of Newgrange was given by two young women, possibly students on summer holiday. They followed a script and could not answer any questions beyond what they had learned off. It was very busy and we were herded in and out. If it's just a case of ticking off an attraction, then Newgrange is the obvious choice but if you want a bit more, Knowth was great.
I've been to Newgrange about a dozen times in the past few years with various visitors. I've always found the guides there to be informative and knowledgeable. None of their 'spiels' was exactly the same and it certainly didn't feel that any of the guides had just learned them off by heart. All of the guides actively encouraged questions and quite a bit of their contribution was delivered inside the tomb itself. Also, there's only ever been one guide with each of the groups I've been part of. In general, I find the OPW guides to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the sites to which they are attached and it would be very disappointing if they were now hiring guides who were reading from a script.
Anyone visiting Newgrange would normally allow themselves a couple of hours by the time they book in for the tour and bus. I think the guides give a pretty good description of the tomb and it's history, certainly adequate for most peoples needs. There are also books available at the visitor centre for anyone who wants a more indepth history.
We visited many OPW sites when we were in Ireland in April (and if you plan to do so, get the Heritage Card!) Like Tapl, we were impressed by all of the OPW guides that we had. Not only were they knowledgable about the places they were talking about, but many of them were such good speakers that they sounded like they were "storytellers". They sure kept our attention! For instance, our guide at Newgrange had been fortunate enough to be inside the the tomb more than once for the Winter Solstice and her description of the event was wonderful.
Since we visted before Easter, we did not have a choice of going to Knowth, but I would say that the highlight of our visit to Newgrange was being able to go entirely inside the mound.
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